Have you ever had a week where you want to be super productive, and then.... nothing? I'm having a week where every time I sit down to seriously work on my fantasy novel, I keep letting myself go off into something else. I am ADHD, so this happens sometimes anyway, but do you have any advice for how to get back on track?
I give this advice a lot, but it is this simple, at least for me. MULTIPLE PROJECTS.
Seriously, I am never as far behind as when I am only working on one title a month. If I have ONE deadline looming and I get stuck, I am REALLY stuck.
But if I have several things, I can write on one until I get stuck, and go work on something COMPLETELY different and the floodgates do tend to open.
I have one very important deadline right now and feel very stuck. Because it’s crucial, I can’t really swap to work on something else and it’s really slowing down the work.
I may have to write a couple pages of something else anyway.
Anyway, that’s my secret. Multiple projects. If you don’t have multiple things to work on, MAKE SOMETHING ELSE UP.
Seriously. It works.
This is excellent advice, and I can say from years of experience that it definitely helps.
Hi there! Gabi here, otherwise know as the Slow Countershoter. I’ve been informed that I forgot to put up a Sunday Extra yesterday as it was, indeed, my turn. But since I tend run behind on most things I’m just going to pretend it’s still Sunday and regale you with a little story from my childhood (about 2 years ago - I am also the Baby Countershoter. That’s how I get away with missing deadlines.)
When I was in college studying Graphic Design, our teachers told us to create “Mood Boards” before starting new projects. To do this we’d cut up magazines, printed images and fabric swatches, glue them to a poster board and sometimes even break out the glitter like it was post-secondary craft time. The idea was to collect as many images, font faces, colour swatches, keywords etc. related to our project as possible. Then we presented the board to our peers, asking them to infer our vision based on our Mood Board - this would give us an idea of whether or not our project had a clear direction, or whether two projects were too similar to be any good. Once we were done, we had a handy dandy reference to look at while we worked. We’d even stick the boards up over our work areas so we could look at them quick jolt inspiration when we felt stuck.
And like my dear mum likes to say, playing is good for creativity! Creating a Mood Board is a fun and easy way to get over the first intimidating hurdle of Starting A New Project. It’s a visual brainstorm - no idea is a bad idea at that stage. Only when you’ve collected exactly a metric tonne of reference do you start to pick and choose which pieces are most effective and worth pasting to the board. Once it’s all together you can start to pick out patterns, that is, similarities between the pictures you’ve chosen. Sometimes they’re surprising and subconscious! Those similarities will often turn out to be the “essence” of your project.
What do they bring to mind? When I look at Helvetica’s, qualities like being suave, intelligent, eccentric, delicate, aggressive and crafty come up. There’s lots of makeup and jewellery (but muted colours), older, thinner, even androgynous figures and, of course, crazy hair. To be honest I already had a good idea of who she was as a character, so her Mood Board just confirmed my vision - still a worthwhile exercise.
John’s Mood Board really helped me nail his look, however - I was totally lost on how to create someone that could compete and complement someone as outrageous as Helvetica. I knew I wanted him to embody the “Strong Female Character” trope, so I collected pictures of beautiful heroines and sex icons, male and female. Synthesized, I came up with qualities like fun, humorous, silly, sexy, beautiful, courageous and strong, which I felt was a nice contrast to Helvetica. The looks were really revealing, young, brightly coloured, feminine and honestly, really cheesy… not to mention all the mustaches. I was already predisposed to a mustache as John is the Watson to Helvetica’s Sherlock, but the Mood Board is what really clinched it.
Some of you might already have Mood Boards in the form of inspiration blogs, reference folders or even literal Mood Boards if you use sites like Polyvore or Pinterest. Even once a character is created or project started, it’s great to keep accumulating reference to have on hand for sudden wardrobe or scene changes. The key, however is to keep all that reference organized… or else it’s practically useless! Having multiple folders for different subjects on your desktop and tagging effectively on your blogs are good habits.
And word to the wise: give credit where credit is due. Ideally these kind of reference dumps should be kept private, but if you like to share don’t erase sources and don’t co-opt material from other independent creators, i.e. your peers. That is, Steal Like An Artist:
Your homework this week, should you choose to accept it: Google “Mood Boards” for more examples, create a Mood Board for a character or location and share it with us!
I did a thing! Late, but done.
A good thing!
I know I’ve done this before, but inbox me if you’re an artsy type person who’s taking commissions and/or know someone who is.
caves are so fucking hype though if you come to cincinnati the cincinnati museum center has a cave exhibit where you can walk through two model caves and it’s the raddest shit
I’m lucky enough live in a place where there’s limestone caves all over the damn place. Like, less than an hour away. :D I actually took a trip to one a few years back for reference photos.